In the first post of this blog series, I talked about what being a mentor teacher is. It’s important to understand your role in the partnership with a beginning teacher. But how do you develop a trusting, productive new teacher-mentor relationship?
Start With Self-Reflection
First, you need to think about what you want the mentor-mentee relationship to look like. Here’s where a little self-reflection comes in:
- What kind of mentor did you have your first year? What did he/she do that helped you feel supported (or not)?
- What character traits do you have that will help you in your role? What are some areas that you may need to work on?
- What will you need from each other to work together effectively?
- What excites you about working together?
- What concerns do you have about working with a beginning teacher? How can you address them early on?
- What boundaries do you want to set (i.e., communication, availability)?
Some of these questions you may want to discuss together, and others are just food for thought.
Provide a Warm Welcome
We all know that saying about first impressions. There are lots of small, easy things you can do to start your relationship on a welcoming note!
You can provide lunch, hang a welcome sign or banner on the classroom door, leave a note in his/her staff mailbox, etc. You might ask your librarian or reading teacher for some books to get his/her classroom library started. It’s also easy to put together a low-cost welcome basket with some cute goodies and basic supplies.
Get to Know Each Other
Your relationship starts on Day 1. Taking time to learn more about each other is an important step to start building trust and developing connections. You could host a new teacher orientation and tour, have lunch out together, exchange phone numbers, or chat over coffee!
As you start to get to know each other personally and professionally, it’s a good time to discuss any ground rules or expectations that you want to put in place right away.
Create a Safe Space
I know that sounds corny, but it’s true! It’s important to remember that you’re not there to answer every question or fix every problem, and that should not be your mentee’s expectation. The role of a mentor teacher is more about coaching and providing feedback – but that only works if your mentee feels they can come to you. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you meet with your mentee:
- provide a judgment-free space
- listen to what is being said as well as what’s not
- keep what’s said to yourself (unless there is a serious concern)
- share your own successes/struggles
- collaborate on solutions
Keep It Up All Year Long
After the craziness of the Back to School season ends, things won’t get any less busy for the new teacher. As the year progresses, so will your working relationship. Some questions to think about:
- How do you plan to check in on your mentee throughout the year?
- How will you know if your relationship is going well? What will you do to address it if it’s not?
- What other relationships can you help your mentee develop in the school community?
Your relationship doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to work for both of you. Take a step back to reflect and reach out for help if it’s not going as well as you’d like.
You can also join us in the K-6 Mentor Teachers Community on Facebook to collaborate with other mentors and get more tips for developing the partnership with your mentee!
There’s a lot to think about here to get started developing that teacher-mentor relationship! In the next post, I’ll share about the work you’ll be doing as a mentor teacher!
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